Wise child-rearing in a technology saturated society.

While we wait for our children, I am working as a nanny for a lovely little boy in Year 2. With some help from his Dad, he’s recently set up a website where he sells things he’s made. It’s linked to PayPal for easy online payments. He has a staff only section for the 3 workers who he pays £1 a month to design new products. Currently a bookmark costs 69p and, as he’s started receiving orders, so I asked him yesterday whether he’d factored in delivery costs, or was that charged separately? He hadn’t factored in delivery costs because he didn’t know what a stamp was.

How can a child build a website from scratch, but not know what a stamp is?!

Well, after a long conversation with the Tesco kiosk lady about the cost of stamps, he’s now reconsidering the price of a bookmark.

DSCF4794But it got me thinking. I am only 25, but my childhood was so different from this 7 year olds. At his age I had a pen pal who I posted letters to regularly. With my school friends I saved up my spare change and posted it to the RSPCA. We’d send postcards to family while we were on holiday. I’m not sure I knew what a website was, never mind how to make one. I’m still not sure!

We see so many statistics of children who are groomed by predators over the internet, or exposed to pornographic images before they’ve reached puberty. We shake our heads at parents pushing children round in prams who are glued to an iPad. It’s easy to think of the internet and technology as the root of all evil. We say children should enjoy childhood the same way we did – playing in the streets. (How on earth do we think that is safer?!)

Well until recently, I really believed technology to be the Destroyer of Childhood.

Yesterday, when I picked up my little website-building friend, I began to change my mind. For a long time I’ve struggled to get him to engage with Maths, he just doesn’t enjoy it. And why should he?! Yesterday he worked out how much profit he’d make if he sent his products first class, and how much second class. He worked out the individual cost of a stamp from the price of a book of 12. He estimated how many products he’d sell in a month, so how much he’d have to spend on stamps each year. He factored in the costs of staff.

He then tried to negotiate a better deal on stamps from his Dad. He reconsidered the features of his products to decide if he could sell them for more. He started designing flyers to advertise his business, and badges for his staff. He has an apprentice.

Maths, literacy, art and design, negotiation, persuasion, leadership, problem solving, hard work and discipline, the value of money. Suddenly learning came alive, and he was loving it! And suddenly I found myself wondering, not how can I slow him down, but how can I keep up?! He might never use a stamp, but when you know how to send an email, does it really matter?

He might never play Kerbie, or trap his friend in one of those massive commercial wheelie bins, but I think he’ll survive. Especially when he’s made his first million by age 21.

And so, as we get ready to welcome our children home, I’d love to know how you feel about your kids and technology. How do you keep them safe without holding them back? How do you keep up?! At a recent Therapeutic Parenting training day I heard about the benefits of playing video games in light of the Nurtured Heart approach. I’d love to know your experiences of this too! Please comment and join the conversation!

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2 thoughts on “Wise child-rearing in a technology saturated society.

  1. Sara says:

    I’ve only just found your blog and may never find it again, though I really hope I do – you have made me laugh out loud… really loud, at the non-cake eating SW and now this clever little chap who’s learnt what a stamp is. I’m old enough to be your mum, never mind my adopted teenagers’. It has dawned on me that sadly, I’ve been too staid, traditional and… old? to appreciate the benefits of technological gaming and socialising. We were quite strict about possession and usage when they were younger but even so, our son in particular now has an obsession with his mobile phone, which he uses all day long, during lessons etc. We didn’t take enough time to learn what it was all about and didn’t take an interest in the games he was playing, so now we’re left not knowing what he’s watching, playing, reading, saying. My only hope is in prayer – God is good and will sort it all out. Romans 8:28. My hope in saying all this is that it will alert other parents to make sure they learn it all so that they can show genuine interest, which will keep the lines of communication open with their teenagers. God bless everyone who reads this.

    Like

    • Rain or Shine Blogger says:

      Thanks Sara, great to have you! Yesterday I went to a Christian training event about the sexualisation of kids and the part technology has to play in it which I’m blogging about tomorrow. What was clear was how clueless so many parents feel when it comes to smart phones and social media – you’re not the only ones! I think you’re right, it’s so important to keep open lines of communication and to educate ourselves. But the most important thing we can do is pray for our kids. While we can protect them with rules when they are young, only God can protect their hearts once they outgrow our boundaries and start making their own choices.
      Best wishes as you soldier on! x

      Like

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